Sunday, February 19, 2012

Santorum, n.

As the election year picks up steam, and the various states vote in their primaries and caucuses for their Republican presidential nominee, I cannot help but chuckle whenever I hear Rick Santorum's name. Primarily due to this:






Just for additional hilarity's sake, clicking on that link will lead you here. Amazing. Journalists love playing off of it too, like this article: Santorum's Surge Holds Steady So Far (hilarious? Definitely. Inadvertent? Definitely not). Nothing like pissing off the wrong guy and having it explode in your face in comedic fashion. While this may not have completely quashed Rick Santorum's political career, it definitely did not help (or maybe it did by unifying the anti-gay vote behind him since lefties were not voting for him anyway). This link first appeared in 2004 and has festered there at the top of Rick Santorum's search results ever since, like a hilarious sore. For marketers, the lesson here is this: the internet is a beast; don't mess with others who can use it better than you. Especially if good/bad press can make or break you.

In recent years, we've heard of companies' attempts to use the internet to help their businesses, but having it backfire in their face due to their misuse of the internet and the ensuing backlash from the internet community. godaddy.com recently encountered this with their CEO's support of the SOPA bill that was then coming up for a vote in Congress. The ensuing backlash and threatened exodus by users of godaddy's domain services was a PR disaster. Belkin too recently encountered a similar internet backlash when it was found out that they were paying for good reviews on sites like Amazon and Newegg. With the growth of the internet, it has become more and more crucial to ensure you don't piss off netizens because if they do turn on you, it will be costly to fix, or as in Rick Santorum's case, unfixable. It is also important to remember that the internet has pretty much infinite memory, so while one could recover from a misstep, there will always be a record of it somewhere, be it in a wikipedia article, or an article from the past that can always be searched with a few keystrokes on google. Beware the power of the internet.

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